Targeting Spinal Fluid Early May Predict Alzheimer’s Risk

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Marji_140715_2A new study published in JAMA Neurology concludes that changes in the spinal fluid for middle-aged individuals may help identify the risks of developing Alzheimer’s when they are older.

Study researchers analyzed data gathered over a period of 10 years from 169 healthy individuals between the ages of 45 and 75. Researchers divided the participants into three groups: early-middle age (45–54), mid-range middle age (55–64) and late-range middle age (64–74).

Clinical evaluations were conducted on each participant that included brain scans, an analysis of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, and cognitive functioning assessments.

The research team analyzed beta-amyloid 42 (protein clumps or plaques found in the brain), tau (a protein that helps stabilize tubes inside cells; levels of tau increase in spinal fluid when brain damage progresses), YKL-40 (a brain-cell protein that indicates inflammation) and amyloid plaques (clumps of amyloid protein in the brain—a trademark of Alzheimer’s).

Researchers discovered that drops in cerebrospinal beta-amyloid 42, for individuals between the ages of 45 and 54, were associated with the emergence of brain plaques later in life. Cerebrospinal levels of tau, and other markers of brain cell injury, rose for some participants once they reached their mid-50s to their mid-70s. YKL-40 levels rose across all groups.

The study’s senior author, Anne Fagan, concludes that these biomarkers “may be useful for targeting middle-aged, asymptomatic individuals for therapeutic trials designed to prevent cognitive decline.” She adds that since Alzheimer’s is a long-term process, they would have to observe people for a long period of time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that approximately five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Source for Today’s Article:

Paddock, C., “Midlife changes in spinal fluid may predict Alzheimer’s,” Medical News Today web site, July 14, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296698.php.

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